Tuesday, June 16, 2015

South Africa pisses on the rule of law

Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir is a wanted war criminal, the subject of two ICC arrest warrants for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Over the weekend, he attended a summit of African leaders in Johannesburg. The South African government granted him immunity. Human rights activists went to court seeking an order for his arrest, and won an injunction forbidding him from leaving the country. Today, the South African government ignored that and allowed him to depart:

The Sudanese president, Omar al-Bashir, has flown home, leaving South Africa in defiance of a court order that he must remain to face an international arrest warrant.


As Bashir’s plane took off from Waterkloof military airfield outside Pretoria, the local high court was hearing arguments over an application that would have forced the South African government to arrest him.

A South African judge criticised the government for allowing Bashir to leave. “The conduct of the respondents to the extent that they have failed to take steps to arrest and detain the president of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir, is inconsistent with the constitution of the Republic of South Africa,” Dunstan Mlambo said.

The high court ruled after Bashir’s departure that he should have been detained.

So, we have a government defying its own courts to protect a war criminal. There's a name for people who do that: accessories. And they should be tried for it.